Man gets two years for role in 2019 'brutal unprovoked' jail attack on vulnerable inmate

·3 min read

THUNDER BAY — A 26-year-old man facing a murder charge has been sentenced for his role in an unrelated, unprovoked attack of another inmate at the Thunder Bay District jail more than a year ago.

Darren Steven Oombash, 26, appeared in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom on Monday, Nov. 30, and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault for his part in an assault of another inmate.

Ontario Judge Chantal M. Brochu accepted a joint submission for Oombash of two years less a day minus pre-sentence custody.

Crown counsel Katrina van Kessel read out facts relating to the Sept. 21, 2019 assault at the district jail involving Oombash and five others where they attacked another inmate who suffers from schizophrenia and mild intellectual impairments, court heard on Monday.

“This was brutal, unprovoked six-on-one attack on a vulnerable person,” van Kessel, said, adding the victim still suffers from long term damage to his vision as a result of the attack.

Court heard the complainant suffered several injuries after he was dragged out of his cell by Oombash’s co-accused, Jonathan Yellowhead into a corridor area of the jail where he was beaten by six other individuals to the point where he lost consciousness. The entire incident was captured on surveillance video at the jail.

Some of his injuries included a concussion, a fractured and displaced orbital bone with hemorrhaging in his sinus which required surgery, a dislocated jaw, swelling, bruising and abrasions to his face. His left eye was also swollen shut.

“At the time of his discharge from hospital on Sept. 27, 2019, swelling to his face was still so significant that the injury to his eye could not be assessed,” van Kessel said, adding the complainant has no memory of the attack.

Court heard a few mitigating factors laid out by lawyers including Oombash’s limited criminal record which includes two convictions, one for mischief and one for resisting police. His guilty plea was also considered mitigating as it showed a sign of remorse.

Defence counsel Mary Bird gave the court a brief background of Oombash's upbringing. He moved to Thunder Bay from Cat Lake First Nation to attend high school.

“Unfortunately like many young people who end up in the city, they often end up without employment, without a place to stay and unfortunately he got himself into a little bit of trouble,” Bird said.

The lawyer also highlighted Oombash’s parents and both sets of grandparents attended residential schools. Bird also said her client started drinking at the age of 13.

“It has become part of his lifestyle unfortunately and certainly led him to be in custody and obviously he wasn’t intoxicated this day, but it has been an issue for him,” she said.

Some of the others involved in the attack have already been sentenced according to court documents. Lennox Oren Atlookan was given a three-year jail sentence on July 23 and Brolin Ian Donald Ooshag was sentenced in June to a total of 540 days in custody. Both men received weapon prohibitions orders.

Travis Jacob Loon, John Thomas O’Keese and Johnathon Joseph Yellowhead will appear in court next on these charges on Dec. 18.

Oombash was also given a 10-year weapons prohibition order and is not to communicate with the victim.

He was given credit at an enhanced rate for the time he spent in pre-sentence custody of 653 days which leaves 76 days left to serve.

Oombash remains in custody for other outstanding matters including a charge of murder where he is co-accused with Marlene Lou Kwandibens and Terry Nicole Irene Michon. All three are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2018 death of Ashley McKay.

All three co-accused have had their murder charge committed to stand trial in Superior Court and will appear in court next on Dec. 14 for a pre-trial, according to court documents. There is a publication ban on these matters.

Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source